Embracing the spirit of the season, pet therapy volunteers dressed their specialty-trained dogs in Halloween costumes for tail-wagging trick-or-treating. The costume-clad canines took to hospital hallways at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando to visit pediatric patients and healthcare team members.
The pet therapy dogs dressed as a leprechaun, a pirate, R2-D2 (alongside his trainer dressed as Princess Leia) and Wonder Woman.
Benefits of Pet Therapy Programs
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, animals can provide essential aid to people with disabilities and varying health conditions. There are three types of assistance animals: service animals, emotional support animals and therapy animals.
Many people impacted by emotional stress find animals to be calming. This includes those impacted by depression, PTSD, schizophrenia and other conditions. Plus, doctors, therapists and other professionals attest that the physical interaction with therapy pets likewise benefits those impacted by stroke, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, amputations, burns and other conditions that require both physical and emotional rehabilitation.
For example, a patient with weakness in the arm may enjoy petting a pet therapy dog’s soft fur without even realizing that the repetitive, controlled motion is, indeed, physical therapy.
Aside from dogs, a variety of animals have the potential to serve as therapy pets, including birds, cats, horses, pigs, guinea pigs and rabbits.
AdventHealth’s Volunteer Pet Therapy Program
AdventHealth Volunteer Services’ Pet Therapy Program features canines that play an instrumental role in the care offered at this Central Florida-based hospital system. The dogs serve as cheerleaders, entertainers and, again, physical therapy assistants, bringing patients smiles and a much-needed distraction.
Operating under strict policies and infection control guidelines, as well as the approval of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), canine teams (dog + human trainer) make more than 9,000 visits to patients each year.
According to the hospital’s media team, AdventHealth’s Pet Therapy Program is actively seeking additional volunteers to lead tail-wagging efforts. To learn more, call (407) 303-6938 or visit AdventHealth.com.